Switzerland’s beautifully decorated Christmas markets provide visitors with the opportunity to sample mulled wine, raclette, fondue and Swiss holiday traditions. Visitors can shop for decorations and gifts or simply enjoy the festive atmosphere. The markets also provide many activities for children and families, from traditional candle-making and musical performances to visits with Santa Claus.
We have a few tips for visitors and first-time guests. It’s a good idea to dress warmly and to wear comfortable, warm shoes! Many Christmas markets are located in old towns with cobblestones and uneven surfaces. Some Christmas markets run for a weekend or two, while others extend throughout November and December. Check their websites for opening and closing times, as hours may vary by day, particularly on weekends. Make sure to bring enough francs as some stalls will not accept credit or debit cards. Consider arriving by public transit if traveling to popular markets on weekends, particularly as Christmas approaches – SBB also offers some discounts and extras for market visitors to certain cities (more information here). Above all, make sure to take the time to visit a Christmas market – a highlight of the holiday season in Switzerland.
Basel Christmas Market: Open daily in the old town at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz from 22 November through 23 December. From 29 November through 22 December Münsterplatz will also be the location of a “Christmas fairy-tale forest” for children, featuring a range of activities and opportunities to make holiday crafts. Click here for more information.
Bern Christmas Market: This market in the cozy old town is held at the Münsterplatz and Waisenhausplatz from 1 – 24 December. Click here for details.
Biel/Bienne Christmas Market: The market is centrally located in the Nidaugasse and runs from 6 – 24 December, with over 80 stalls featuring local delicacies, crafts and mulled wine, as well as glass blowing demonstrations. Opening times vary – click here for more details.
Bremgarten Christkindlimärt: Open from 6 – 9 December, this market features hundreds of stalls in a medieval walled city, along with concerts and performances. There will also be a number of activities for children, including a Samichlaus (Santa Claus) in residence at Obertorplatz. We advise you to go early, especially if you are bringing children. Click here for details.
Einsiedeln Christmas Market: A beautiful setting on the Klosterplatz below the church, featuring musical programs, mulled wine and Lebkuchen (gingerbread) from 1 – 9 December. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the church and see the famous Black Madonna. Einsiedeln also hosts the Diorama Bethlehem, the world’s largest Nativity scene. Click here for details.
Gruyères Christmas Market: The Christmas Market takes place from 7 – 9 and 14 – 16 December in the center of this charming town. The market will be part of a larger Christmas celebration, with various events and exhibitions taking place throughout December. Visitors can also pay a visit to the Gruyère cheese dairy. Click here for details.
Lucerne: There are several markets located in various areas of Lucerne. The Lozärner Wiehnachtsmärkt will be held daily at Franziskanerplatz from 30 November through 19 December . Click here for details.
Additionally, the Venite Market will be held 13 – 16 December at the Kapellplatz. This unique market highlights the Christmas traditions and customs of countries around the world. Click here for details.
Lugano Natale in Piazza: This market will be held in central Lugano from 1 December through 6 January. Along with a Christmas Market (1 – 24 December), the event will host New Year’s celebrations. Click here for details.
Montreux Noël: The Christmas Market stretches along the lake from 22 November to 24 December. Attractions include a light show, Ferris wheel with an “Elves’ Square” for children and a medieval-themed market at Chillon Castle. Families can also book tickets for the cog railway departing from Montreux to visit Santa Claus on the Rochers-de-Naye mountain. Click here for details.
Rapperswil-Jona Christkindlimärt: This Christmas Market is one of the largest in Switzerland. The market begins with Advenstdörfli at Fischmarktplatz from 7 – 12 December, followed by the larger Christmas Market from 14 – 16 and 18 – 23 December with stalls in the old town and along the lake. Click here for details.
Sion Marché de Noël: The Christmas Market will run from 8 – 23 December. This market features a “living Nativity” and also provides free donkey rides for children in the late afternoon. Click here for details.
St. Gallen Christmas Market: This Christmas Market will be beautifully illuminated by lights as St. Gallen becomes the “City of Stars” during the festive season. The market runs from 29 November through 24 December. Click here for more details.
Stein Am Rhein Märlistadt: The “fairy-tale” market runs from 5 – 31 December, surrounded by the beautiful half-timbered buildings of the old town. There is also a smaller medieval market from 14 – 16 December in the former abbey. Click here for more details.
Zurich: Zurich hosts Christmas Markets at various locations around the city. The Wienachtsdorf Christmas Village at the Sechseläutenplatz has around 100 stalls as well as ice-skating and a fondue chalet. The market runs from 22 November through 23 December. Click here for details.
The Old Town Christmas Market can be found lining the centrally located Niederdorfstrasse and along Hirschenplatz and Rosenhof. Open daily from 22 November through 23 December. Click here for more details.
The Christkindlimarkt at the Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) has about 150 stalls and features a large tree filled with glittering Swarovski ornaments. The location is especially convenient for travelers and commuters who would like to do some Christmas shopping. The market is open daily November 22 through December 24 with extended hours Thursdays-Saturdays. Click here for more details.
The Christmas Market at Werdmühleplatz will be open daily from 22 November through 23 December. This venue hosts the “Singing Christmas Tree,” a large tree-shaped stage with daily performances by choirs and musical groups. Check out the website for a complete schedule of events – click here for more details.
For a comprehensive listing of Christmas markets throughout Switzerland with dates and times, check out the My Switzerland website.
If you have a favourite Christmas market not listed here, please share it by adding it in the comments below. Thanks!
By Tracy Wellons
Tracy has spent an inordinate amount of time wandering in Christmas markets. Her best tip for visitors is to know that mulled wine (served outdoors) has a very short window of time between “scalding” and “lukewarm,” so you should watch it closely for best results.
Updated from previous listings by Mary Bider and Andrea Snashall
The photo is from the Einsiedeln SZ Christmas Market.